Potential Antiviral Target for SARS-CoV-2: A Key Early Responsive Kinase during Viral Entry

Siwen Liu, Lin Zhu, Guangshan Xie, Bobo Wing-Yee Mok, Zhu Yang, Shaofeng Deng, Siu-Ying Lau, Pin Chen, Pui Wang, Honglin Chen*, Zongwei Cai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Currently, there is no effective antiviral medication for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the knowledge on the potential therapeutic target is in great need. Guided by a time-course transmission electron microscope (TEM) imaging, we analyzed early phosphorylation dynamics within the first 15 min during severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) viral entry. Based on alterations in the phosphorylation events, we found that kinase activities such as protein kinase C (PKC), interleukin-1 receptor-associated kinase 4 (IRAK4), MAP/microtubule affinity-regulating kinase 3 (MARK3), and TANK-binding kinase 1 (TBK1) were affected within 15 min of infection. Application of the corresponding kinase inhibitors of PKC, IRAK4, and p38 showed significant inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 replication. Additionally, proinflammatory cytokine production was reduced by applying PKC and p38 inhibitors. By an acquisition of a combined image data using positive- and negative-sense RNA probes, as well as pseudovirus entry assay, we demonstrated that PKC contributed to viral entry into the host cell, and therefore, could be a potential COVID-19 therapeutic target.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-121
Number of pages10
JournalCCS Chemistry
Issue number1
Early online date3 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Chemistry(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Antiviral target
  • Early responsive kinase
  • Phosphoproteomics
  • PKC
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Viral entry


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